By Matt Snyder
It's a weird thing to say, but the Twins can breath a sigh of relief having now found out that star catcher Joe Mauer has a bad case of the flu -- specifically a viral infection.
He was initially placed on the 15-day disabled list with bilateral leg weakness. It's a malady that could be caused by any number of things, including herniated discs in a player's back -- which would have likely cost Mauer a large chunk of the 2011 season. But then, late Thursday night, Mauer was taken to the hospital with what the team has called "extreme flu-like symptoms." Basically, he was hugging porcelain for a good portion of the night.
As the Twins went back and realized when the initial symptoms started to occur in Mauer's legs, it became evident he was experiencing general aching that was the early onset of the flu.
"That really kind of helps us through this whole process of the leg stuff," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It tells us that there's probably a reason why he's been so sore, and that's [because] his system is fighting a viral infection. It kind of helps us in knowing a little bit better in where we stand and what's really going on." (MLB.com )
The news really couldn't be better for the Twins, assuming once the flu is gone the strength returns to Mauer's legs. He could have had more than one herniated disc or had lingering problems with his surgically repaired knee. Instead, it appears his body was simply trying to fight off the flu. The Twins could retroactively place him in the DL back to the last time he played (April 12), so -- assuming everything goes well from here on out -- he'd be eligible to return the last week of April.
Mauer, 27, has gotten off to a poor start to the season, hitting just .235 with a .554 OPS in his first 38 plate appearances.
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